History We Forget

An old man sits in a courtroom, with the whole of his country watching. Once held in in high honor in this land, now he is disgraced and shamed. A small minority of young supporters quietly spurs him on, while the vast majority curse the air he breathes. This may sound like some great American hero who took the fall for crimes he did not commit, however the reality is far darker. The man is Johann Rehbogen. The country is Germany. The offence he is being tried for: contributing to the pile of human rights violations during Nazi Germany, as an SS guard. Though such crimes were committed nearly eighty years ago, German courts and lawyers are pushing to prosecute the thousands of ex-Nazi officials that slipped past Nuremberg. What is most alarming is not the horrific descriptions of events the occurred years ago, but how exactly this particular man was caught. Johann was arrested after publicly refuting and proving irrevocably wrong a group of neo-nazis who denied the events of the holocaust being as horrible as they were. They tried to make people believe that the Jewish population lied about what went on inside the camps. Johann, being an ex SS officer, told his accounts of exactly what happened.

This story is becoming more and more common, especially in Eastern Europe. A huge rise in alt-right and Neo-Nazi organizations has been cropping up. The riots in Poland, the demonstrations in Romania… The entirety of Europe is slowly but surely becoming more fascist, and there seems to be no coverage of it here in the U.S. Part of the reason may be that the U.S. too, is becoming more fascist. After the events of Charlottesvile, and the tragic death that occurred, it is no longer a secret that the Nazi population here if far larger and far stronger than any might have guessed. It also indicated that because of the President’s recent actions and comments, these groups have become empowered.

In 2017, the FBI reported an increase in hate crimes for the third year in a row, rising 17% in that year alone. The report showed that the main targets of these crimes were African-Americans and Jews. both being groups that the President has either openly or inadvertently insulted and attacked. The connection is an obvious one to make, yet there remains a large group of Trump supporters who believe, at least publicly, that neither Mr. Trump nor his base is racist in any way. What is most astonishing is that, when taking a look not just at the United States, but the whole world, Trump and his base are not a cause, but an effect. The effect of a wave of growing authoritarianism and extreme nationalism. Recently, Brazil’s new president, Bolsonaro, was sworn in. Bolsonaro would best be described as a Trump with even less of a filter. His open ridicule of women, homosexuals, and anyone even leaning politically left has apparently swept up the country in a fervor, even to the point of supporting another dictatorship.

Why exactly this tide of hate and division is sweeping from country to country is an immense question to even ask, let alone answer. For many, it is the natural response for the wave of acceptance and equality that the globe’s political left tried to push for the last decade or so. Others would say that it is from an underlying fear to protect the privileged classes, in a sort of last ditch effort to return to the “good old days” when those on top could do nearly anything they wanted to those unfortunate enough to be born under them. Yet, it is the opinion of this author that the cause is a combination of this realization that the world is changing to be more inclusive, and that in this new world, we will all have to learn to share and share alike. A thought that, in a capitalist Earth, is terrifying. “Willingly give up what I have for the good of everyone? That’s socialism!” Indeed it is, and perhaps this is the last gasp of air before the plunge into a more socialist world, where resources can no longer be wasted on the wants of a small elite at the expense of the many. Perhaps, it is the passing of the storm, before the rainbow.

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